Going solo: learning to live with yourself

me myself

In my relatively new life path of single living, I’ve come to the conclusion that one of the most difficult and sometimes annoying aspects of the lifestyle is that you can’t escape your own presence.

That sounds odd when I say it, but I compare it to when I was married and focused most of my attention on my spouse and my family.  I fell into the habit of continuously gauging what it was they wanted, and directing my efforts toward accommodating that.  Eight hours a day (plus commuting time) was directed toward making money to pay for the things that supported a married with children lifestyle.  Weekday evenings were for listening and attending to their problems and looking for solutions.  Weekends were for things that needed to be done around the house or the yard or pursuing family recreation.  Personal time for the most part was limited, and opportunities for introspection and examination were sporadic.

It’s my own fault that I didn’t carve out much “me time”.  I know other married men that did, whether it was fishing with the guys on the weekend or poker night or football at the sports bar.  For whatever reason, little of that held much interest for me.

But getting back to my initial point, the contrast with the single lifestyle is that all of a sudden things are very different.  Your work and paycheck are your own (after paying off the divorce settlement of course).  Your budget and financial plan is geared only toward your own financial goals and objectives.  Weekday evenings the agenda is your choice.  Weekends might be time for some housekeeping chores, but what to do and when to do it is based on how fast the grass grows, whether you’ve run out of clean socks, and whether you can still fit dishes and silverware into the dishwasher before you have to run it and empty it.

So the dialog that goes on to determine priorities and actions is strictly between you and yourself!  And sometimes yourself can get a bit annoying.  Some of the ongoing issues with myself are along these lines:

  1. I am apparently quite a procrastinator when left to my own devices.
    • Laundry is done when I’ve run out of socks or clean underwear
    • Dishes are done when I’ve run out of either plates, forks, or pots to cook in
    • I mow the lawn when it looks like it will be a problem if I don’t cut it soon
    • I clean the house when I know I’m going to have a visitor
    • Grocery shopping is done when the refrigerator and freezer won’t make a meal I’m interested in
  2. I also tend toward being sedentary, to a greater extent than I realized
    • I bought a rowing machine and had to give it away to avoid the guilt of not using it
    • I got an inflatable kayak last summer that is still in the box
    • The pull-up bar in the door jam has dust on the handles
    • Until quite recently, the new bike I bought last summer had fewer than 10 miles on it
  3. It’s taking a long time to banish negative self-talk, the kind drilled into me by significant others in my past regarding
    • the idea that I’m self-centered
    • and only care about myself
    • that I’m too introspective and intellectual
    • that I’m withdrawn and not social

It’s probably the negative self-talk that’s the most annoying.  My method for working on overcoming that has been meditation, and I’m making progress.

Procrastination is a tough one, since I’m used to doing what I’m asked/strongly-suggested to do.  But keeping a to-do list has been some motivation.  In fact, some old projects I’ve been avoiding are floating up dangerously toward the top of the list.

Being sedentary I’ve recently addressed by putting some regular activities on a weekly calendar, and reducing them to things I actually find enjoyment in, rather than things I tend to think I “should” do.

It seems silly in a way that a guy of 60 would have difficulty figuring out what to do with himself when he’s on his own.  But maybe I’m not alone.  Maybe there are lots of people in my situation that struggle with the same issues, quietly, and on their own.

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3 thoughts on “Going solo: learning to live with yourself

  1. Two things: 1) You are not alone!! 2) Positive inner speech makes all the difference!
    Learning how to take care of yourself the way you did your family seems foreign doesn’t it? Give it time…it’s not selfish…it’s good caregiving!

  2. You are certainly not alone. The thing that is most difficult living alone is finding purpose and that is why things get left undone. I am currently actually sitting back enjoying my solitude – after 40 years of sharing. Finding purpose will come, but it can wait for the moment.

  3. As I read this, I thought maybe I had already written this about myself. Anyway, I’m having a lot of the same difficulties. You’re right, scheduling reoccurring events helps. I still try to do things for others rather than myself. You’re definitely not alone.

    I also have unfinished business from my distant past and have become friends with her again. Nice to at least I can spend time with an old friend. I’m also learning from her. She has no interest in entering into a relationship with anyone including me, but I have been able to learn from her.

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